Friday, July 20, 2001
Ochoa-Walker trade a bit surprising
The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Associated Press
The Reds tried to trade Dmitri Young and Pokey Reese for pitching and ended up trading Alex Ochoa for a middle infielder.
It was surprising, Ochoa said after Thursday's swap with the Colorado Rockies for Todd Walker and minor-league outfielder Robin Jennings. You hear Dmitri's name out there and Pokey's and not as much mine.
But given the Reds' offensive production lately, hitting had to be addressed as well, and the Reds had to move an outfielder to make way for super-prospect Adam Dunn.
The concept is to give us more offense, General Manager Jim Bowden said. Dunn and Walker do that.
Walker, 28, was hitting .297 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI in 85 games with the Rockies. He'll play second base at least until Barry Larkin returns from the disabled list. Walker, the eighth pick overall in the 1994 draft, came up with the Minnesota Twins. He was their regular second baseman in 1998 and '99. His best year was '98 when he hit .316 with 12 homers and 62 RBI.
He's coming into his own, Bowden said. That happens with some guys when they're 27 or 28.
But the Reds clearly ex pect more out of Dunn than Walker. That's why they gave up Ochoa, a five-tool player, who was hitting .289 with seven home runs and 35 RBI.
It's very difficult to trade him, Bowden said. He's a class act, one of the best people I've met in baseball.
It's never easy to lose a teammate like Alex, first baseman Sean Casey said. But that's part of this being a business.
Walker was surprised by the trade, too. He's not sure what will happen if Larkin returns and Pokey Reese is still around.
That's out of my control, Walker said. You just play until that day comes.
Jennings hit .301 with seven homers and 31 RBIs in 49 games at Triple-A and was designated for assignment to the Reds' farm system.
Money was not a major factor in the deal. Walker makes $1.05 million this year; Ochoa makes $1.6 million. Walker is under contract through 2003.
To open a roster spot, left-hander Justin Atchley was optioned to Louisville. Jennings, 29, was designated for assignment. He had been playing with Colorado's Triple-A team in Colorado Springs.
Ochoa, 29, came to the Reds in exchange for Mark Sweeney in January 2000. He won the right-field job after Dante Bichette was traded to Boston in August.
I'm excited about the opportunity, he said. But I'm a little bit disappointed to be leaving. I have some good friends here.
Bowden thinks Denver's hitter-friendly atmosphere will help Ochoa the way it helped another former Reds outfielder.
I told Alex that he should look at Jeffrey Hammonds to see what this could mean to him and his family, Bowden said. I think at Coors Field, he could have huge numbers.
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